A TIGER testing positive for the coronavirus after becoming infected by its handler has led to fears pets might be at risk.
Nadia, a four-year-old female Malayan tiger at the Bronx Zoo, tested positive for COVID-19, while six other tigers and lions have also fallen ill.
⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates
The case the first time a big cat has tested positive for the virus and raises questions about the welfare of pets in the pandemic.
Evidence has emerged of human-to-animal spread of Covid-19 and experts have warned pet owners to avoid intimate contact with their animals.
The World Organisation for Animal Health has said: "Now that Covid-19 virus infections are widely distributed in the human population there is a possibility for some animals to become infected through close contact with infected humans."
It added "several dogs and cats have tested positive to Covid-19 virus" as a result of contracting the disease from their owners.
In America, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that "a very small number of pets outside the US reported to be infected with the virus that causes Covid-19 after close contact with people with coronavirus."
The first reported case of an animal being infected came on February 28 when a Pomeranian dog in Hong Kong tested positive for Covid-19
Further testing and gene sequencing suggested it had a low level infection and it was likely to have been a case of human-to-animal transmission.
The dog didn't show any clinical signs and following repeated testing and negative results, was released from quarantine but died three weeks later.
A second dog in Hong Kong also tested positive and, again, showed no clinical signs.
Cats appear to be more susceptible to the coronavirus.
On March 27, it was reported that a cat in Belgium, whose owner was diagnosed with Covid-19, had tested positive for coronavirus and showed mild clinical signs.
The infection appeared to be an isolated case and the animal’s health was understood to be improving.
Professor Eric Fèvre, chair of veterinary infectious diseases at the University of Liverpool, urged pet owners to exercise caution.
“People should take usual precautions of hand washing when handling their pets, and avoid overly intimate contact, especially if sick with Covid,” he said.
A study from the Harbin Veterinary Research Institute, in China, which has not been peer-reviewed, also suggested last week cats could pass on the virus to each other.
But research indicates that transmission is primarily human-to-human.
IDEXX Laboratories Inc in the US evaluated thousands of canine and feline specimens during validation of a new veterinary test system for the Covid-19 virus.
The lab reported that its results echoed "the current expert understanding that Covid-19 is primarily transmitted person-to-person”.
Source: Read Full Article